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Nobody cares about you


This article was first published on the Online EU Training blog


Are you a diplomat representing a South American country in Brussels? Are you a trade association covering renewable energy matters? Are you a lobbyist trying to have DG SANCO issue a positive opinion about a plant fertiliser? Are you an NGO going to great lengths to have the European Parliament condemn an act of racism in an African country? Well, the sad truth is that nobody cares about you.


To be fair, the truth is that everybody cares about you only as much as you offer them something they care about.


What does this mean? If you are the above diplomat for a South American country, you will have leverage with EU institutions by providing them special insights, such as an in-depth analysis of your country’s political situation that only you can know, given your position. If you represent the renewable energy industry, you can provide valuable data, analysis, industry position and ideas on how to regulate this domain that you are much better positioned to offer than anyone else. If you are the plant fertiliser lobbyist, you can convince the authorities by reliable, objective data that helps their job instead of giving them the feeling of being influenced. If you are the NGO representative, you can call others’ attention to an event or violation they otherwise may have ignored. If you are the European Commission, job candidates will care about you because you represent a value or an idea that they like, and you offer jobs that would benefit them personally.


Nobody cares about your organisation: people care about what’s in it for them. We can fume that this is egotistical and morally reproachable. But aren’t we all working like this?


Do a small experiment: if you pass by the Schuman roundabout in Brussels (or, as a matter of fact, any other busy roundabout in the world) and you are stopped by peace/human rights/animal protection/green etc. activists to sign a petition: do you really stop? If you are like most of us, you probably don’t: you don’t care because there is nothing in it for you, you don’t share that goal, you are too busy caring about your own values, own tasks, own issues. Which is perfectly fine and understandable.


When applying for a job, keep in mind that the employer doesn’t care about you either: (s)he cares about the added value you can bring for the job. When launching a newspaper ad campaign as part of your EU lobbying efforts, the readers don’t care about you: they care about seeing an entertaining photo, a useful background study on the policy they are themselves dealing with, or a call for action that resonates with them. When creating your NGO’s EU affairs website, visitors don’t care about you: they care about getting information they need for their work, they care about seeing a video to understand an issue quickly, and they care about connecting to others who think the same way as they do.


We at Arboreus also learned this message the hard way: when sending out newsletters about the company, our website or even promotions, the open rate was quite disappointing. The minute we started offering valuable, relevant advice to candidates, the newsletter became a hit as we stopped talking about ourselves and started focusing on our clients. As Dale Carnegie put it more than half a century ago: you can achieve anything you want if you help others achieve what they want.


All you need to do is ask yourself a simple question: how can I  add value to my visitors (stakeholders, applicants, regulators, decision makers) so they will start caring about me?


Posted in Marketing

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